A Day With My Muse

As I’m watching the calendar zip toward the end of the year, I’m really feeling the pressure, and all of my 2019 goals slip right through my fingers. It’s not that I haven’t been writing, I’ve just been writing everything except the books I had planned to finish before the end of the year.

Discipline is great advice–if it actually worked for my dysfunctional muse (aka creative flow). Unfortunately, whenever I try to force myself to focus on a certain book, rather than the one my muse wants to work on, I end up spending hours staring at a blinking courser while she sits on the sidelines filing her damn nails.

Any amount of words you can get down for any WIP is progress. This is a golden truth and we should never deny ourselves the credit for those small, random accomplishments. I just wish mine were on the WIPs I need to get done first. There’s a natural order to writing, or at least there should be. Especially, if you’re like me and juggle an extensive amount of series. Oldest series should be getting new installments published before newer series, right? And definitely well before new stand-alone’s that can wait.

My order is slightly different. My older series are with my publisher, rather than self-published so I’m not in any hurry to add to those until I get my rights back. #sorrynotsorry. My goal order begins with my oldest Indie books – the Hell on Earth series would be first and I hit that one out of the ballpark by introducing Hexed earlier in the year. Yay, team! The Dark Day Isle series would be next…. (looks around for muse, and finds her ecstatically pointing toward book 3 of my Ulfrinn series.) Erm…no. I just said, we’re not adding more books to the series that are still with the publisher.

After three days of staring at the blinking courser, I break down. Fine! We’ll work on the damn 3rd book to the Ulfrinn series until you get bored with it!

One week later….

I’m now staring at a blinking courser for book 3 of the Ulfrinn series, so I guess she’s finally bored with it. What are we working on today, muse?

“I had an idea.”

No. No, you didn’t–

“Yes, I did and it’s totally awesome, you wanna hear it?”

No, I–

“SOOOOooo, this is how is goes…”

😐

Two days and one new WIP added to the pile later…

This has been my year so far; lather, rinse, repeat. How are your 2019 goals shaping up, writers? Are you struggling to meet them, surpassing them or just happy with writing anything at all? Do you often find yourself at odds with your muse or did you get a fully-functional, helpful one?

There’s an endless supply of advice out there on the world wide web about how to conquer, control and keep your creative flow in line – and I really hope you’re all finding something useful to help you along your journey. They often don’t work for me because much of it centers around being a Plotter, which I will never be. I couldn’t plot a book to save my life. I’m 100% a Pantser, completely at the mercy of my characters and which direction they want to go, what they want to reveal, and those delicious twists even I never see coming.

Plus, I have the most obstinate, stubborn-as-hell muse in existence. I just really hope I’m not the only who refers to their ‘creativity’ as a separate entity they often butt heads with – LOL. If I am, don’t tell me, I like living in denial of my issues. 😉

❤ Happy Saturday! Wherever you are, I’m sure you’re trying to stay cool like the rest of us – so now might be a great time to work on your next winter or autumn themed novel. Just an idea! 😀

Going Forward to Look Behind

Daily Press asked us today what kind of progress we would like to see with our blogs a year from now.  So, I hopped into my time machine… Remember, I wield the Time Traveler superpowers… and I zipped through the multidimensional plains to January 2, 2015, looked back and… scrunched up my face in distaste.  “What is this hodgepodge of illogical randomness?” I asked myself.

The problem is that I’ve already noticed this.  I don’t really need to travel to the future to see what’s been going on around here – it would just be fun.  I can’t even blame the daily prompts, since it’s my choice to use them.  When I started this blog, it was supposed to be for nothing more than to promote my upcoming book and everything else I end up writing under the pen name A.C. Melody – What?  You thought that was my real name?  Oh, sorry.  It’s not.  It’s my pseudonym.  Perhaps, it was meant to advertise my unbelievable skill at weaving tales by using an excessive amount of large words you would need a dictionary to figure out – but that’s not how I talk and this has turned into more of personal blog than a professional one.

Is that bad?  I’m not sure.  I wouldn’t mind reading more personal insights about my favorite authors on their blogs, so I don’t think it’s a horrible thing.  It just isn’t putting my craft out there very well.  Writing is a craft of mathematical proportions:  10 minutes of typing + 15 minutes of walking away = 2 hours of editing.  See?  The thing is that when I’m reading a novel, I don’t mind the artfully placed, grandiose usage of large words.  I hate reading it in someone’s blog.  An overabundance of large words in a blog just sounds pretentious – especially, if that’s not really the way you talk – or, maybe even if it is.  (Just my personal opinion.)

It doesn’t seem that my voice as a writer has found a niche here, though.  Outside of a few faithful, whom I also follow loyally, the only time my blog seems to attract attention is when I do link to the daily prompts.  Well, I’m not sure how much more of that I’m going to be doing.  I’ve also opted not to join January’s NaBloPoMo, because frankly, I have a book to write – so, I’m not going to commit to blogging daily when it’s not very likely to happen until I’m done.

What I do hope to accomplish is keep adding more pieces to my Where Words & Art Collide pages, because that means I’m being even more creative than just writing!  I also want to dedicate more time to reading blogs, for I know there are some sensational ones out there that I’m currently missing, (I’m partial to ones that make me laugh). I’m already off to a promising start with my artwork, so I will be keeping my fingers crossed it continues.  Until next time, Daily Bloggers, here’s the latest addition:

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Click to enlarge picture

Afterglow

He-he… Okay, that was a naughty play on words, but sex isn’t the only thing that brings you that feeling of utter relaxation and mindless bliss.  Sometimes, it’s just the release of all the stress and frantic running that grinds us down during the holidays, making the day after feel so….ahhhhhhhh.  There’s no more rushing, the kids are content with their new gifts (for now), there’s no large feast to prepare and plenty of delicious leftovers to make you smile.  I’m personally looking forward to a piece of the Dutch Apple Pie I was too full to attempt yesterday.

I’m also feeling pretty darn good about how much I’ve accomplished over the Winter Break so far.  34 Character Bios!  That’s quite a bit, right?  I’ve completed all of the bios for the book I’m working on, and have moved on to a few other books.  What classifies a sub-character for other writers?  I found myself wondering this, as I was filling out the fifteenth sub bio sheet and shaking my head over how little information I had on that particular character.

To me, there are “filler” characters (the teen waitress at the sandwich shop during a scene who has one or two lines) and then there are Sub-Characters.  Filler characters are not getting a Bio Sheet, I’m not that meticulous – in fact, if you’ve been reading my posts this long, you already know that getting me to do any kind of character bio is like a Christmas miracle!  In my humble opinion (stop laughing) Sub-characters play a more significant role in the story that can range from mildly involved/somewhat present to the Main Character’s constant companion/friend/sidekick.  It’s no different than a movie with a full cast of sub-characters surrounding the Main people, and all of the “extras” roaming around to make everything feel more authentic.

Then there are the “absentee” characters.  What in the hell is that, you ask?  The absentee character is talked about, mentioned, suspected, given a characteristic rundown by all of the other characters in the book, yet will never make a personal appearance.  I don’t know who else might do this, or why it happens to me, but it does.  I have a very big “absentee” character in my book, The Zen Lounge, (because I had to cut out the only scene he was ever in just to make the word count limit for my publisher).  It wasn’t until I was doing these character bios, that I realized I had done it again with a much smaller absentee in the book I’m working on.  Is that common?  Is it viewed as good or bad?

Authors & Readers: What are your opinions regarding absentee characters?  What makes a character fall under your idea of Sub-characters vs Filler characters? Do you bother making bio sheets for characters outside of your main protagonist?

Those Little Things (A Rant)

Yes, this is a bit of a rant.  The title was meant to forewarn those who may offend easily, because there’s simply no way to say what I have to say without possibly sounding like a total snob.  So, here goes nothing:

Knock it off.  It’s bad enough that we can barely read the news these days without having a Texting Acronym Dictionary on hand, we don’t need your gob-smacking, utter disregard for basic, grade-school grammar on top of it.  If you think I’m just talking about Jane Doe’s personal blog, you’re wrong.  This is actually aimed toward those self-proclaimed professionals.  People who purposely put themselves out there as either:  a) Highly educated, b) Experienced in writing, teaching, journalism, etc. or c) Intelligent beyond normal standards in a sense of puffed-up, ego-inflated sales pitch designed to attract the mate/employer of their dreams.

I am, admittedly (in several posts now) NOT the Queen of Grammar, by any stretch of the imagination.  I’m not trying to be hypocritical here.  It took me awhile to learn how to use “its” and “it’s” properly, not to mention I still begin far too many sentences with the words But and And.  I will use urban slang intentionally for affect and have tossed my share of invented words at my readers just for fun.  But to be so lazy as to never capitalize, or use an apostrophe is just ridiculous.  You are being a disservice to yourself, while pretty much guaranteeing that anyone with a love for reading or writing will never visit your page again.  It hurts my eyeballs to see the glaring thoughtlessness and certainly makes me doubt your claims of education and/or professionalism.

I am just dumbfounded at the increasing number of these blogs, comments, profiles and other community-style pages I continue to come across – not just here at WordPress – but online everywhere, with these small, yet eye-gouging infractions:

  • i – Should ALWAYS be capitalized!  It looks both sad and unimportant when you fail to do so.  It’s a proper noun – ALL proper nouns get capitalized.
  • im – NO!  Stop it!  This is a contraction for “I am”, it is spelled I’m.  (Also capitalized!)
  • ill – Really?  You do realize that this is an actual word, right?  It means to be sick – or in the case of any Sir Mix-A-Lot song, it means to be totally awesome.  It DOES NOT, however, mean “I Will.”  That is spelled I’ll. (Notice it’s capitalized?)
  • to – Yes, this is a word, just not when you’re referring to “a lot of” something or “also.” This is when it’s spelled t-o-o.
    • Incorrect way: I spent to much money at the store.
    • Correct way: Your writing has too many errors in it.  I spent too much money at the store, too, though, so I feel your pain.
  • your – When the sentence could otherwise be read “you are” this is spelled “you’re.”
    • Additionally- “Your” is already a possessive, adding ‘re does not make it so.
  • There:  is a place.
  • Their:  refers to a person beside yourself.
  • They’re:  is a contraction of They Are.

Please… PLEASE, if you are going to claim to know what you’re talking about, do yourself and your readers a favor – take five minutes to proof and polish before publishing anything online.  No one is going to believe you’re capable of anything, if you can’t even begin a paragraph with I’m rather than im.  Okay, end rant – annnnnnnnnnnnd let the angry comments begin….

Can’t Let Go

Alright, NaBloPoMo, you wanted More/Less… here’s a problem I have.  I accumulate documents.  Look, when I first started writing in my teens, Bill Gates hadn’t done jack to help me, yet.  The only thing I had to use was a notebook and a pen.  A couple of years into it, my dad got a Brother Word Processor (the kind you had to switch out actual reels in order to change the font type) and I thought it was the next best thing since Nintendo had kicked Atari’s ass!  Then the home computer arrived, but I was already in the habit of curling up with my notebooks.  When I couldn’t afford the newest invention called the ‘laptop’, I went down to the local Goodwill and bought a nice typewriter.

So, what’s the problem, you ask?  I have bins FILLED with notebooks and printed documents.  I could scan them, or even take the time to type them into Word and save them (takes up less memory than a scanned document) – I have done this, I really have.  And then… the notebooks and papers go right back into the bin.  I just can’t bring myself to throw these original pieces of paper away.  Why?  Fear.  I’m afraid that if I do, something horrible will happen and they’ll be lost forever.  Paper can’t get destroyed by a computer virus.  These are my hard copies.  My one, true backup system that can’t fail by technology’s devious, fickle hands.  Yes, I have a Dropbox online.  Yes, I have flash-drives.  Yes, I even have 3 1/2″ floppy disks for the older stuff – no judging – but, it’s not the same.

A few several years ago, my worst nightmare happened.  I uninstalled the crappy anti-virus software on my computer, because it wasn’t doing anything other than bogging down my hard drive and before I could install a new one – I was hit by a virus that wiped out all of my documents from A through I.  It was devastating.  Losing all of that hard work, all of those stories that I will never be able to get back again was like losing a loved one.  The grief is inconsolable; I still feel it to this day.  Especially, whenever one of those stories pops into my head and I have to relive its loss all over again.  I had books that were 90% done and now, I fight with my brain to dig back into the past and rejuvenate its love for those tales, for its convinced that those books are already done.  My brain has moved on and the stubborn thing refuses to go back.  (Btw, this happened when thumb and flash-drives were still highly expensive items that usually only office personnel had access to, not every local retail store).

The point is – As much as I would love to just copy all of these documents down into a safe file somewhere and empty the bins into a wood stove in order to cut the clutter out of my storage – I just can’t seem to let them go.  I think I’m doomed to have these crates of paperwork following me wherever I move in the future.  Oh, did I mention that I still curl up with notebooks, perpetuating the problem, rather than helping it? ((sigh))

Do you have something you simply can’t bring yourself to let go of, from fear of possible regret or permanent loss?

Then the Panic Sets In…

Ever since I was given the go-ahead to mention my upcoming novel here on my blog, I’ve been combating this timid anxiety trying to creep its way into my brain.  “Relax,” I tell myself.  “It’s still a year away” – give or take.  It’s not about that novel, though.  It’s about what comes next.

The process is so long, shouldn’t I already have another book submitted by now?  If so, which one?  Confession time again:  I’m possibly the epitome of everything those help articles tell you NOT to do as a writer.  I cannot sit down and write just one novel at a time.  My creative juices don’t flow that way.  I have no less than 2 dozen novels in the works – that have been in the works for months to years – impatiently waiting for my attention to return to them.  It will.  It always does.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the power of discipline as a writer.  I write and (try to read) every day.  Yes, even beyond this new addiction called blogging!

Whether it’s new ideas for old stories – or new ideas in general – I always have my notebook right beside me, where I can quickly stem the spontaneous hemorrhaging.  I have other ‘finished’ novels; they possess a beginning, middle and end, but they’re far from done.  Haven’t yet been put through the wringer of polishing and re-editing needed to meet my own standards, let alone a publisher’s.

Should I force myself to focus on one of these, so I can hurry up and get them submitted?  Or should I keep letting my creativity control the course of my attention?  As a reader, when I find an author I thoroughly enjoy, I can’t wait for their next book to come out.  Since I don’t have any readers – YET – I’m not entirely sure who I would be ‘rushing’ for.  Myself?  My publisher?  Or the potential readers I might acquire after the publication of The Zen Lounge?  Perhaps, all of us.

All I know, is I’m starting to feel antsy and it’s driving me crazy.  I hate feeling like I’m not working fast enough, that I’m going to miss some imagined deadline.  It’s times like these that I wish I actually had control over my own creativity.  Blasted, single-track bastard.  It’s official, my creativity is male.  Ha!  There, that should get some comments… bring it, fellas. 😉